MBA Letter Urges Senate to Approve Provisions in Coronavirus Relief Package

The Mortgage Bankers Association sent a letter this week to Senate leadership urging support for a number of provisions in H.R. 1319, the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, a $1.9 trillion economic stimulus package that passed the House last week.

In the letter, MBA Senior Vice President for Legislative and Political Affairs Bill Killmer notes MBA supports the targeted measures in H.R. 1319 that provide aid and assistance to millions of vulnerable American families and businesses that continue to struggle.

“Our members believe that key elements within this House-passed package would provide essential relief to millions of individuals and families affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as much-needed assistance to businesses that have been hurt by the economic impact of the national emergency,” Killmer said. “Our association sees a continued need for additional targeted assistance for tenants, homeowners and businesses affected by the pandemic, particularly those businesses in the retail and hospitality sectors.”

MBA identified the following provisions for support:

Targeted Assistance for Affected Homeowners and Renters

• Sec. 3201 Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA). $21.55 billion to Treasury for ERA to cover rent, rent arrearages, utilities, home energy costs, arrearages for utilities and energy costs, as well as other expenses related to housing.

• Sec. 3206 Homeowners Assistance Fund (HAF). $10 billion to provide direct assistance through state housing finance agencies to help homeowners with COVID-19 hardships by supporting mortgage payments; providing funding for deeper loan modifications; assisting with utility payments, property tax and insurance payments, and homeowner association dues; and offering other support to prevent the loss of home equity, mortgage delinquency, default, or foreclosure.

• Sec. 3202 Emergency Housing Vouchers. $5 billion for emergency Housing Choice Vouchers.

• Sec. 3203 Emergency Assistance for Rural Housing. $100 million for rent support for households living in U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)-subsidized properties.

• Sec. 11003 Housing Assistance for Native Americans. $750 million to support Native American Housing Block Grants, Native Hawaiian Housing Block Grants and Indian Community Development Block Grants.

• Sec. 3204 Housing Counseling. $100 million for housing counseling services.

Targeted Assistance for Affected Businesses

• Sec. 5003 Restaurant Revitalization Fund. $25 billion for a Small Business Administration (SBA) grant program to target food and food service-related businesses, which would provide up to $10 million per entity and $5 million per location.

• Sec. 5002 Targeted Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL). $15 billion for SBA’s EIDL program for the purpose of ensuring that qualified small businesses can obtain the full $10,000 EIDL Advance Grant as defined by CARES Act.

• Sec. 5001 PPP Changes. $7.25 billion in PPP funding and extending eligibility to certain non-profits and other organizations.

• Sec. 5005 Shuttered Venues Grant. $1.25 billion in additional funding for the SBA’s shuttered venues grant program.

• Sec. 5004 Community Navigator Program. $175 million for the newly created SBA Community Navigator Program to increase awareness of, and participation in, COVID-19-related assistance programs available to small businesses.

“Taken together, the provisions described above will play a substantial role in helping individuals, families and businesses mitigate the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Killmer wrote. “They are critical to keeping businesses operational and citizens employed and housed. Senate passage of these core elements of H.R. 1319 will position the nation and the economy to recover faster and more fully when the impacts of the pandemic finally recede.”

The bill passed the House on Feb. 27 by a 219-212 vote, largely along party lines. It has support from the Biden Administration and from all 50 Senate Democrats, but it strongly opposed by Senate Republicans, who have vowed to introduce numerous amendments and other delaying tactics. However, Vice President Kamala Harris, in her capacity as Senate President pro tempore, can break any deadlock, as the bill requires only a simple majority to approve.